The Aussies are preparing for a semi-final against the T20 World Cup’s only undefeated side but don’t expect them to shy away from the challenge.
Mitch Marsh says Australia won’t be intimidated by the challenge of facing T20 World Cup heavyweights Pakistan in Friday’s semi-final (AEDT), insisting “anything can happen” now the competition has reached its sudden-death stage.
It wasn’t always pretty, but with its defeat of the West Indies, Australia cleared the final hurdle imposed by the so-called “group of death” and qualified for a semi-final berth by the narrowest of margins.
Shaky form on tour in the winter and a lack of gametime for key squad members led pundits to write the Aussies off in pre-tournament predictions, but Aaron Finch’s men are now just two wins away from tasting T20 World Cup glory for the very first time.
Australia take on Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup semi-finals on Friday (1am AEDT) on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today.
Standing in their way, though, is the only side to go through the group stage undefeated – Pakistan polished off all comers on the road to the semi-finals and will enter the game as hot favourites.
Marsh, who played in all four of Australia’s Super 12 victories, says his side is eager for the tough assignment ahead.
“We’re certainly not daunted by the task,” he told reporters on Monday evening (AEDT).
“This is why you play cricket, to play against the best teams in the world in a World Cup semi-final.
“I just can’t wait for the challenge.”
In Marsh’s eyes, the Aussies have already proven they can defy their recent patchy form. The all-rounder said he and his teammates were keen to continue shattering expectations.
“Our form lines pre-World Cup probably suggested that we were going to struggle,” he said.
“But I think when you look down our line-up, when we’re a full strength side, with the amount of experienced, exciting players, some of the best T20 players in the world in this team, we were really confident.
“And now we’re in the finals. Anything can happen.”
Coach Justin Langer and the Aussie selectors left cricket fans scratching their heads when Marsh, easily Australia’s strongest batter on tour in the winter, was dropped for the Super 12 clash against England.
Marsh ended up being sorely missed – Australia’s top order collapsed, opening the door for England to storm home.
Marsh admitted he was disappointed to have been left out, but with the words of the man who replaced him ringing in his ears, he vowed to do what was best for his team.
“I love the words of Ashton Agar: ‘It takes a full squad to win World Cups’,” said Marsh, who returned for Australia’s next game.
“That’s the mentality we’ve got to have.
“I ran drinks for the boys with a smile on my face (against England). Yeah, it’s disappointing, but it turns around pretty quickly and I find myself back in now.”
Australia will take a similarly positive attitude into the semi-final, knowing any one man can be the hero on the day and secure victory.
“I hope all 11 of us who take the field have that mentality,” Marsh said.
“Only one or two of us needs to be Man Of The Match and perform and we can win a World Cup semi-final.
“Whoever turns up on the day … anyone could beat anyone. So that’s what’s going to be really exciting about these finals.
“Bring it on.”